Does anyone know how one might run two bitcoin full nodes on the same machine with both these nodes sharing the same blocks and chainstate files, is a symlink to these files enough or must something else be done?

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This is not possible beyond providing both nodes identical own copy of the chain before initial sync. Both nodes will attempt to acquire their Bitcoin data resources via the P2P network independently, and index these accordingly, so they cannot share the same store.

What is possible though is to configure the nodes to be permanently maintain a peer connection to each other. TX and Blocks organized by one peer will be seen and then organized by the other.

  • Would it mean you can then have one node exposed to the outside work and another only watching a single local peer? That would completely remove access to the outside world for one of the nodes then wouldn't it.
    – tsujp
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 16:16
  • Both is possible. Saves you some external bandwidth, but you will have fewer connections in total with outside peers (unless you double peers in config). As long as the two peers are permanently connected they will follow the same strong chain, assuming they are running same binary.
    – James C.
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 16:19
  • Another thing worth exploring is sharing specifically the blocks folder but allowing each node to use its own chainstate and database so that the locked peer list isn't required.
    – tsujp
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 16:30

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